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Jameson Cult Film Club: Die Hard

I had the pleasure of attending Wednesday evening’s Jameson Cult Film Club screening of Die Hard. As we’ve come to expect from the guys, it was a wonderful evening hosted in the Tivoli Theatre, from the black-and-white cop car waiting to greet us outside right down to the cut out copy the Nakatomi lobby sculpture, the team clearly put the usual amount of love and affection into crafting an immersive experience for the audience.

(My personal favourite moment was the decision to announce that the film would be starting shortly by having an Alan-Rickman look-alike and his goons storm the dance floor. It was a lovely touch, particularly given the decision to have the directions shouted by the gun-weilding goons rather than the Rickman impersonator.)

Photos and more after the jump.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

These nights are among the highlights of my own cinematic calendar, an excuse to celebrate classic cinema with a bunch of people who obvious share the same affection for the source material. There’s always a little worry that perhaps standards might slip, or even that I might end up somewhat jaded to the experience – it’s a testament to those involved that I have yet to be disappointed by a Jameson Cult Film Club screening.

It’s worth noting, by the way, just what a great choice Die Hard is for an event like this. The celebratory atmosphere of the screen, coupled with the playful nature of the immersive experience, lends itself to “fun” films – spectacles and showcases and sequences the audience remembers and recalls. Die Hard is perhaps the definitive eighties action movie. My family makes a point to watch it every Christmas season, and I know from personal experience that we’re not alone.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

I was quite surprised to bump into a couple of people in the crowd who had never seen the film before, but they were few and far between – and in for a treat. Most of the people in the Tivoli were familiar with film. I suspect most had seen it more than once. This familiarity gave the screening a wonderful energy – a sense of joy and participation from the crowd. The audience, for example, loves Ellis in a way that only makes sense as a wry acknowledgement of his impending death. When Al Powell finally shoots his gun and saves the day, the crowd broke into spontaneous applause.

Die Hard is just a film that drew an incredible response from the audience. Even hosting a screening on its own, without the trappings and the immersion, would have made for a wonderful evening. (An evening so wonderful that they did it twice – kudos to everybody involved in that, running two night screenings back-to-back. The more people who got to enjoy it, the better.) Everything else was just icing on the cake. Affectionate, endearing and clever icing on the cake.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Reflecting the fact that Die Hard is a fast-paced action movie – its two hour runtime flies, no matter how often you’ve seen it – it seems there was a shrewd decision made to keep the immersive segments short and sweet. This is a tight, paced movie, and the interactions of the performers fit that aesthetic well. There were no sections lasting longer than about thirty seconds, but they were all reasonably effective. (In particular, a wonderfully choreographed blow-by-blow enactment of the brawl between McClane and Karl, with two surprise reappearances from live-action Karl, both handled masterfully.)

Outside of those effective short and sharp burst (“shoot the glass!”), the decision seemed to be to stand back and let the film unfold. The two flanking screens, for example, frequently and cleverly served as 24-style split screens – offering warm establishing shots of Los Angeles, or detailing the lock-down of the building, or even offering inserts of on-screen readouts. Nice touches that never overwhelmed the movie, never distracted from it. It’s an approach that suited the film very well.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

The Jameson Cult Film Club did a wonderful job, as they always do. I will admit to being a huge fan of their work, appreciating any opportunity to celebrate well-loved cinema – it’s great to have these lavish screenings and high profile events, and it’s very clear that a lot of affection and preparation goes into these events. The tickets are always distributed absolutely free from their website, so if you haven’t attended one of the screenings yet, you should head on over and sign up. You can find it here.

You might be interested in photos and thoughts on previous Jameson Cult Film Club screenings:

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